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AER expenses, cash bonuses a focus of new auditor general report
EDMONTON -- The province's auditor general is recommending the Alberta Energy Regulator make several improvements to prevent taxpayer dollars from being spent inappropriately.
In his latest report, delivered to the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices Thursday, Auditor General Doug Wylie notes instances in which:
- senior executives at the AER received cash bonuses in a breach of rules;
- long-distance work arrangements weren't properly approved, including a case of a former CEO moving to B.C. and commuting to Calgary while still in the position, and other "inappropriate approval" of senior management expenses; and
- succession plans for senior execs failed to clarify how they would benefit the AER.
“AER should have processes to ensure staff compensation arrangements are fair, align with delivery of its mandate and that they are properly approved and supported,” Wylie said in the report.
“Non‐compliance with required laws could have a negative impact on AER’s reputation and could result in financial losses and public dollars being spent inappropriately.”
The report also makes recommendations to the parks and service departments of the provincial government.
In the first case, Wylie found taxpayers are owed about $25 million in royalty payments from oil sands operators who were given unauthorized exemptions by Alberta Environment and Parks.
Generally, the auditor general found the department is too lenient with oil sands operators, neither collecting enough security from pit operators to compel them to reclaim the land and cover the costs of reclaiming pits, nor enforcing reclamation rules when operators fail to meet them.
"Ten years after our original audit, the processes for reclamation monitoring and enforcement are still inadequate, and so is reclamation security,” Wylie said.
“Security collected by the department does not cover reclamation costs, and Albertans may have to cover the shortfall if operators fail to reclaim the land.”
The report also recommends "more work" by Service Alberta to improve its IT services, such as the NetCare portal or motor vehicle registry. Wylie wants to see the province restore these systems faster after they are affected during a disaster event.